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#HumansCare | Jonathan Freemen, Our New Chair of Trustees

Image of Jonathan at a desk

Last week we welcomed five new Trustees to our Board, including a new Chair of Trustees, Jonathan Freeman MBE. You can read more about the changes to our board, which make it our most diverse yet.

 

In this #HumanCare story we talked to Jonathan about what makes him passionate about caring, why he chose to join Carers Worldwide, what he will bring to our organisation and what he would take with him to a desert island…!

 

Hi! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My most important roles in life are as a husband to my wonderful wife, Tamzin, and as a father to our four fantastic daughters.  For me, family always come first.  My parents were both teachers, both the first in their families to go to universities. My parents instilled in me a love of learning as well as the importance of family, friends and community.

 

“Caring for a family member is an honour and can bring so many rewards but, for so many, the effort and cost involved is just not properly recognised or respected.”

 

Professionally, after my academic studies, my first career was as a member of the Senior Civil Service.  I loved the variety of working in Government, the opportunity to contribute to really important issues affecting society and – most of the time! – helping to make things fairer and better.  I then had the opportunity to take a secondment and jumped at the chance to support a fledging new charitable initiative which we’d been supporting in Government.  After 18 months as Operations Director for Mosaic, HRH The Prince of Wales’ mentoring initiative, I was lucky enough to be appointed Managing Director.  I loved the work that we did at Mosaic, providing role models to support young people, and particularly those from minority ethnic communities, to fulfil their true potential.

 

After six very happy years at Mosaic, I oversaw its merger into The Prince’s Trust.  I then set up my own consultancy and have had a ball working with charities, philanthropists and corporates across a very wide range of issues and areas.  Having advised CareTech plc, which provides specialist care and health services, on setting up a corporate foundation, I was invited to become its CEO! My main role now is CEO of the CareTech Foundation, which champions and supports the social care sector, care workers and those living in care.  After just three years, we’ve supported almost 500,000 people!  In addition, I look after the COSARAF Foundation, which is an international development grant-making charity operating in the UK, South East Asia and East Africa.  Some of the work I’ve seen, particularly in Kenya and Pakistan, that is transforming local communities has just taken my breath away.

 

What makes caring and carer wellbeing such an important issue for you?

Both of my parents are dead now, my mother fairly recently after a long period of dementia that was really tough for all of us and my father a little while back now after a lifetime of health issues.  Supporting them through their ill health was a privilege, a chance to repay the support that they had always given me.  But it was tough and we needed professional care to ensure that they could live their best lives.  I also have family members who care for their children with disabilities and see the huge joy they get from this but the significant personal cost those responsibilities incur.

 

Caring for a family member is an honour and can bring so many rewards but, for so many, the effort and cost involved is just not properly recognised or respected.  This is true in the affluent West but even more so in low and middle income countries, especially where globalisation and modernisation are stretching traditional communities and family support networks like never before.

 

“Supporting them through their ill health was a privilege, a chance to repay the support that they had always given me.  But it was tough and we needed professional care to ensure that they could live their best lives.”

 

Why Carers Worldwide? What made you want to be Chair of Trustees for a small International Development charity like us?

I first became aware of Carers Worldwide through a partnership that we were supporting at the CareTech Foundation.  I was so impressed by just how powerful the impact of its work was, clearly punching way above its weight!  When the opportunity to support the charity directly as Chair of Trustees arose, I jumped at the chance!  The charity combines two issues about which I care passionately: caring and development.  And it does so in a very professional and principled way, combined with a fantastic group of people involved.  What more could you want?!

 

What do you hope to achieve as Chair and what will you personally bring to Carers Worldwide?

Carers Worldwide has achieved so much in such a short time, thanks to a great group of people’s amazing efforts.  As much as it has achieved, however, all involved know that the issues with which we are engaged are huge and that there is so much more to be done.  There is a really exciting and powerful ambition for the charity’s growth and my aim will be to use the fantastic platform created to date to help realise that ambition.

 

As Chair, I hope that I can channel the efforts of our amazing group of trustees and use all of our experience and skills to support the staff team as best we can throughout what promises to be a really exciting journey!

 

How essential do you think a Global Carers’ Movement is in achieving recognition and support for carers?

This is vital.  Whilst the way in which the issues facing carers can play out differently in different countries and cultures, the underlying issues are pretty consistent.  The Carers Worldwide model provides a powerful approach to solving these issues.  Through establishing a powerful global movement, we will be able to ensure that the model is deployed to drive really important change across the world and to ensure that the learnings in one country are shared across all countries.

 

“The Carers Worldwide model provides a powerful approach to solving these issues.”

 

What are your ultimate hopes for carers in the future?

As with so many social justice issues, the ultimate aim is that individuals can flourish and thrive to their fullest extent without being unfairly held back because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.  This is as true for carers as it is for those with disabilities, those from minority backgrounds, those growing up in poverty, or any other similar issue.  I want carers to be recognised, respected and enabled to live their fullest possible lives as they deserve and have a right to expect.

 

“I want carers to be recognised, respected and enabled to live their fullest possible lives as they deserve and have a right to expect.”

 

And finally, what one thing would you take with you to a desert island?!

My bike!  I love cycling and it is good for me in so many ways, both in terms of my physical and mental health.